On the eve of the forthcoming elections in Burundi, on the initiative of the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Archdiocese of Bujumbura, men and women of different religions in the country were invited, in the Spirit of Assisi, to pray for peace. These days tensions have deepened in the country that is preparing to organise political and presidential elections starting next May. The Community of Sant'Egidio has played a central role in achieving peace after years of a long and bloody civil war by encouraging dialogue among the various political parties in the country. For that reason, several religious leaders, politicians and representatives from civil society have accepted the invitation to pray together to invoke the precious gift of Peace.
Two witnesses have given voice to the Burundian people: 73-year-old Judith said that the way of peace is love, which conquers all without killing anyone, and asked not to forget the elderly who have borne the bitter burden of wars and can communicate the value of peace to new generations. Bruce, an 11-year-old child of the School of Peace expressed the desire of all children to live in peace, and that war saddens everyone, including the winners, because they are always afraid of the other.
Particularly significant was the presence of Mons. Matteo Zuppi of the Community of Sant'Egidio, who accompanied the peace negotiations for Burundi in Rome and in Arusha, addressing to the Burundians, he said: "Today, we are proud to celebrate this day of Prayer in the Spirit of Assisi of Saint John Paul II, who just 25 years ago visited this country. Burundi and you Burundians have known, for so many years, the bitter fruits of war and division , but you have also been able to show the courage of Peace. These days, Burundi must continue to be an example for all that peace is possible, and that only the instrument of dialogue can make it grow.”
Along the same lines, Monsignor Evariste Ngoyagoye recalled, commenting on the greeting of peace that the risen Jesus gives to his disciples, that peace is a precious heritage that every Burundian is called to safeguard and cherish because it is a treasure that has been achieved at the price of the blood of so many innocent victims.
The first Vice President of the Republic, in turn, wanted to launch an appeal to the country so that there is a joint commitment to safeguard peace, unity and social cohesion, to which all Burundians aspire in this pre-election period.
The appeal for peace recalled the words of Pope Francis, who said that "victory and defeat are not the right words, and that the only right word is peace!”. This appeal wants to open a new prospect of Peace and confidence in a climate of conflict, it was signed by the religious leaders present and then handed over to policy makers, diplomats and members of the civil society present.